IBD

Get Treatment Early for IBD

If painful cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and bloody stools are a regular part of your life, don’t wait. Visit the Augusta University Digestive Health Center to find out if you may be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. IBD includes Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the digestive tract, or ulcerative colitis, inflammation of the colon.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce inflammation, stop or lessen symptoms, and prevent surgery. As a comprehensive care center for IBD, our team offers:

  • The latest methods for diagnosing IBD
  • New treatments, from medications to surgery
  • Multidisciplinary care. Because IBD can also cause problems with the skin, eyes, and joints, our center coordinates multidisciplinary care, including rheumatology, dermatology, and ophthalmology — all here in one setting
  • A patient-centered approach that includes recommendations for lifestyle modifications that may help reduce symptoms

The goal of treatment for inflammatory bowel disease is to achieve remission so that symptoms disappear and to maintain remission so flare-ups don’t occur, improving quality of life. Remission leads to healing of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

Diagnosing IBD

Community hospitals routinely diagnose IBD using EGD, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and colonoscopy. At Augusta University Digestive Health Center, we go a step beyond these standard methods, with the most advanced, minimally invasive procedures to help detect signs of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, as well as early signs of cancer — since patients with IBD are at increased risk. Our advanced diagnostics include:

  • Videocapsule endoscopy, or pill camera. Only advanced centers offer this minimally invasive procedure, which involves swallowing a capsule about the size of a large vitamin. This capsule has a camera that records images of the entire digestive tract.
  • Magnetic resonance enterography. Few radiology centers are equipped to offer this noninvasive imaging test, which obtains detailed pictures of your small intestine. And because MR enterography is completely radiation free, patients with chronic conditions like Crohn’s who may require many follow-up imaging tests can undergo those safely. Our center also offers MRIs of the pelvis for patients with perianal Crohn’s disease.
  • Computed tomography enterography. This noninvasive imaging test combines a contrast material and X-rays so doctors can see detailed images of your intestine.
  • Chromoendoscopy. The current standard of care is for patients with ulcerative colitis to undergo random biopsies to screen for cancer, which is often undetectable via conventional screening tests. Augusta University Digestive Health Center is the first in this region to offer chromoendoscopy, which uses a special dye inside the digestive tract to outline flat precancerous lesions so they can be seen through an endoscope and removed.
  • EGD or esophagogastroduodenoscopy. This test examines the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) using a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end.
  • Colonoscopy. This test examines the lining of the colon using a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end.

Treatments

Thanks to ongoing research for IBD, treatment protocols are changing rapidly. More doctors refer their patients to our digestive health specialists at Augusta University Digestive Health Center because we know and understand the latest therapies.

We focus on prevention and health maintenance, providing each patient with personalized and individualized care based on his or her specific symptoms. We suggest that we see patients with active disease every couple of weeks to every month; patients who are doing well can be monitored every three to six months.

Our treatments include:

  • Medications. Several types of medications are available to treat IBD including aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunosuppressives such as 6-mercaptopurine and azathioprine, and biologic agents.
  • Health maintenance, including ensuring patients are up to date on immunizations and checking for certain vitamin deficiencies
  • Nutritional management, such as providing patient-specific dietary recommendations, especially for Crohn’s patients with narrow areas of the digestive tract
  • Surgery. Our surgical procedures range from dilation of narrowed areas of the digestive tract to removal of portions of the colon and creation of an ileo-anal, or j-pouch
  • Post-surgical complications. We are experienced in maintaining the health of your j-pouch, including treating inflammation (known as pouchitis). Once we identify what part of the pouch is at risk, these complications may often be treated with antibiotics and rarely will require another surgery

Meet Our IBD Team

Dr. Humberto Sifuentes, inflammatory bowel disease and director

Dr. Alan Herline, Minimally Invasive and Digestive Disease Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Co-Director, Digestive Health Center

Schedule Your Appointment Now

Schedule an online appointment or call 706-446-GUTS (4887) to speak to a member of our digestive health team.